Ultimatum: Marriage(6)

By: Ann Major

“My living room.”

“What am I doing here?”

That was the question upper most on his mind, but he couldn’t ask her until he was sure she was all right.

Slowly, as she continued to stare at him, her expression changed.

“Where are my clothes?” Her voice rose. “What did you to me?”

“Not a damn thing that I shouldn’t have, so calm down. You fell in the shower. I heard a crash, rushed inside, turned the water off, carried you here, dried you, put you into my robe and checked your pulse. And now that you’re conscious and yourself again, I think we should call your doctor.”

“No need for that! I’m fine,” she said huffily. “Or at least I would be if…” She stopped, clearly troubled by some new thought.

“Did you faint? Or trip?”

She stared at him. Her eyes were huge, wary. “Everything just went black. I guess I fainted.”

“Like I said, you should see a doctor.”

“I will. But not right now. I’m very hungry. I…I haven’t eaten much for a couple of days.”

He’d read in some newspaper that reporters stalked her every time she left her apartment, even to go to the grocery store. Had she been starving herself as a result? Again, he fought the impulse to feel sorry for her.

“Could I possibly trouble you for a cracker…or two…and maybe some tea?” she asked, her tone formal and polite now.

She and her father had made a mess of his life. He should forget she looked defenseless and sexy and make himself call the cops and ask them to send Officer Thomas back. Jake could ask him to drive her to a soup kitchen or a hospital—anywhere.

This whole thing was beginning to feel much too complicated. But instead of doing anything remotely sensible, he nodded.

“Why did you come here?” he demanded.

She rubbed the back of her head and winced. “Jake, before we get into that, I—I’m, I really am seeing bright spots. I…I…I really do need that cracker first.”

“You threatening to faint on me again?”

“I don’t feel so good. Really, I don’t. That’s a fact…not a threat.”

“One stale cracker coming right up,” he whispered gently. “You stay put on the couch while I make a tray. The last thing either of us need is for you to faint again.”

As Jake’s footsteps receded, Alicia sat up on his couch and squeezed her eyes shut.Oh, God, how could she tell him, him of all people, the man who’d turned her father in to the feds and blown his life and her to bits, that she might be pregnant with his baby?

She’d tested positive on four home pregnancy tests.


Pressing her fingers to her temple, she counted her thudding heartbeats until the bright spots faded.

It wasn’t as if she hadn’t rehearsed a little speech—several speeches.

Jake, every morning I wake up clammy with nausea. Just for the record, my period’s three weeks late…. I know that because I always note the event by writing a little p—in red—on my kitchen calendar on the exact date of the month. And I’m never late!

She knew what he’d say—that it wasn’t possible, that he’d used a condom. Several condoms.

She sucked in a tight breath as too many embarrassingly intimate memories flickered. Sex had never been her favorite sport. She was too shy and repressed. Sex was something a woman like her never even considered with a virtual stranger. But she’d forgotten all her aversions and hang-ups with Jake. She’d given herself to him, a man she’d barely known, with such uncharacteristic abandon she blushed every time she thought about how many times and where they’d done it.

And then the next morning he and Hayes Daniels had turned her father in to the feds. Shivering, she must have sat there on his couch twisting that strand of hair for a full five minutes. Even in his thick robe, she felt chilled to the bone. Well, at least the awful morning sickness had passed.

He’d think she was crazy for not waiting to tell him until she was sure. But—because of him—she hadn’t had a choice. The feds, or rather that officious little agent with the wire-rimmed glasses atop his bulbous nose, had shown up without warning and had kicked her out of her apartment, explaining again why the feds had the right to seize all her father’s properties, which included her apartment and furniture.

She wouldn’t have come here if she’d had anywhere else to go. Before she’d left the apartment, she’d tried her father’s cell phone. He had caller ID, so if his phone was near, he’d know she was calling. But he hadn’t answered. Had he seen her name and punched the word ignore?